Trump's Pick For FBI Head Sounds A Lot Like The Guy He Fired When It Comes To Encryption

from the BACK-TO-WORK,-NERDS dept

Trump's pick to head the FBI -- former DOJ prosecutor Christopher Wray -- appeared before the Senate to answer several questions (and listen to several long-winded, self-serving statements). Wray's confirmation hearing went about as well as expected. Several senators wanted to make sure Wray's loyalty lay with the nation rather than the president and several others hoped to paint him into a Comey-bashing corner in order to belatedly justify Trump's firing of his (potential) predecessor.

Wray also spent a lot of time not talking about things he claimed he was unfamiliar with -- covering everything from presidential directives, to Donald Trump Jr.'s Russian emails, to questions about CIA human rights violations that went unnoticed/unprosecuted during his tenure in the DOJ.

Sen. Orrin Hatch -- as he did during a recent Comey hearing -- brought up the subject of encryption. Hatch claims he "agrees with Tim Cook," which places him in opposition to Sens. Feinstein and Burr. It also puts him in opposition of the possible new FBI boss, who had this to say about encryption. (h/t Politico's Eric Geller)

I think this is one of the most difficult issues facing the country. There's a balance that has to be struck between the importance of encryption, which I think we can all respect when there are so many threats to our systems, and the importance of giving law enforcement the tools that they need to keep us safe.

You can already tell where this is going. Encryption is great and all, but what's would be really great is some sort of backdoor-type thingy.

Wray continued by swiftly jumping to the other side of the argument -- at least in terms of team uniform. Certainly not in terms of how the "other side" feels about encryption and backdoors.

I don't know sitting here today as an outsider and a nominee before this committee what the solution is, but I do know that we have to find a solution. And my experience in trying to find solutions is that it's more productive for people to work together than to be pointing fingers blaming each other. And that's the approach I've tried to take to almost every problem I've tackled. And that's the approach I would want to take here in working with this committee and the private sector.

One advantage to having been in the private sector for a while is that I think I know how to talk to the private sector, and I would look for ways to try to see if I could get the private sector more on-board to understand why this issue is so important to keep us all safe.

So far, so Comey. New suit in the office, but it fits the same as the last one. Wray thinks both sides should work together but strongly hints the actual work will have to be done by the private sector. The problem, according to a guy who's worked "both sides," is the private sector needs to be more "on-board." And that indicates Wray feels the problem isn't the lack of both sides working together, but the other side not capitulating. That's a problem, and it sounds a whole lot like X more years of Comey.


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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 14 Jul 2017 @ 6:22pm

    The math still does not add up

    So does that puts him just above the "Aussie Prime Minister Says The Laws Of Math Don't Apply" or just below? Or does it make him a better mealy mouthed politician who says one thing while meaning something else entirely.

    He has "One advantage to having been in the private sector for a while is that I think I know how to talk to the private sector..." which means he is better able to explain the laws of mathematics to those lowly private sector serfs...um...er...nerds, so they can nerd ever so harder...for the GOOD team.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 15 Jul 2017 @ 1:56pm

      Re: The math still does not add up

      Mathematics don't apply to "motherfucking eagles" as well. I suspect in their world it would be Newton floating and hitting the apple because they issued an injunction against laws of gravity because it helps terrorist throw planes at buildings effectively bringing said buildings down. Evil gravity I tell you, we need some gravity backdoors.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 14 Jul 2017 @ 6:42pm

    Well, that's half of the skill-set...

    One advantage to having been in the private sector for a while is that I think I know how to talk to the private sector...

    Great, awesome. Now, do you know how to listen to them? Because 'talk to' the private sector sure sounds a lot like the 'we need to have a conversation' crap that's been thrown out, where the government dictates and the other side is supposed to just sit there, nod their heads and get right on doing what they're told.

    ... and I would look for ways to try to see if I could get the private sector more on-board to understand why this issue is so important to keep us all safe.

    Guess not. 'Meet the new threat to safety and security, same as the old threat to safety and security' as the saying goes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 15 Jul 2017 @ 1:54pm

      Re: Well, that's half of the skill-set...

      "... and I would look for ways to try to see if I could get the private sector more on-board to understand why this issue is so important to keep us all safe."

      This both shows he is not willing to listen and provides examples so teachers can use when they talk about paradoxes. You won't keep anybody safe by insisting on the encryption must allow law enforcement in trope.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Cowardly Lion, 17 Jul 2017 @ 3:31am

      Conversation, what conversation?

      To my knowledge, not one of these insular authoritarian goons has ever had an honest dialogue about what we, the vast and patient public, want.

      Not that I've ever been asked, but they can keep this manufactured, non-existent "safety" they keep spewing out. I want my privacy back. I don't want a single one of these government sanctioned curtain-twitchers reading my private missives concerning what in no earthly realm is ever any of their business.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    stderric (profile), 14 Jul 2017 @ 9:15pm

    And my experience in trying to find solutions is that it's more productive for people to work together than to be pointing fingers blaming each other.

    Pointing fingers is exactly why he's being obtuse and why he'll insist on the impossible: specifically to avoid working with anyone productively while making it appear as though it's his goal to do so. That way, if backdoors aren't implemented and there's a successful terrorist attack or something of that nature, he can blame the tech sector for not cooperating. And if they do get their crappy gaping hole backdoors built into vital systems? When there's a security breach anywhere, he can blame the tech sector for creating 'imperfect' backdoors.

    Win-win scapegoating.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jul 2017 @ 4:12am

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sherlock, 15 Jul 2017 @ 4:14am

    (("... the problem isn't the lack of both sides working together, but the other side not capitulating. That's a problem..."))


    The "other side" is the American public. Police 'forces' like the FBI exist to control the public -- FBI (and government) mindset is ALWAYS to 'command' the populace.... not discuss things.

    Quit focusing upon & fretting about specific current personalities within misbehaving government agencies (NSA, FBI, FCC, courts/cops, etc) -- you must step back and observe the big-picture of why these agencies came to exist and what their true objectives are now.
    {Hint: they are NOT noble public service organizations}. Watch what they do, not what they say.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      stderric (profile), 15 Jul 2017 @ 5:58am

      Re:

      I don't think Tim's oblivious to 'bigger picture' issues -- he & TD cover Balko-style militarization of local PDs, mission creep, inter-agency collusion (parallel construction, fusion center data sharing), scope creep (FBI butting into wholly non-US events, NSA performing domestic SIGINT). In fact, this post's seems to be about a larger chunk of the big picture than Christopher Wray the person: it's about the fact that he & Comey are just interchangeable duplicates who'll spout the exact same nonsense about encryption despite the fact that two real people capable of rising to the position of Director couldn't both actually be this damn stupid.

      The big picture is made up of a bunch of individual pixels, and we need every single one of 'em lit up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        stderric (profile), 15 Jul 2017 @ 7:29am

        Re: Re:

        this post's^ seems to be about a larger chunk of the big picture

        Option 1: insert "point" Option 2: omit "'s" possessive

        I noticed a bit of a mention (in the publicly viewable part of the insider chat) concerning the history & possible future of an 'edit' function in an evolving plan for site redesign, and I think I have the perfect solution: a CVS repository that's dynamically generated for each individual comment as it's posted. Obviously, something like github is underpowered and lacks many necessary features, but its engine could serve to run a temporary system to tide us over until a more robust, dedicated Google-AI optimized data center solution can be tested & put into service.

        I'm sure this is already part of the plan, but I just thought I'd put in a 'yea' vote from an outsider :)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Canuck, 15 Jul 2017 @ 12:27pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Or, you know, proofread. Carefully. If you have time to write a comment, you have time to read it back. That's what the preview button is for.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            stderric (profile), 15 Jul 2017 @ 4:52pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            *Or, you know, proofread. *

            Too much of a good idea...: I Preview. I question my word choice and sentence structure. I try a rewrite. I keep some revisons, discard others. Repeat a dozen times, and Submit: coherence is at best a crap-shoot.

            TBH, though, an edit function would mean I'd never stop 'fixing' the same comment to the exclusion of all else, until the day I die.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 15 Jul 2017 @ 6:42pm

    Shall I ...

    ... repeat my comment about the obvious solution to this encryption problem?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MyNameHere (profile), 16 Jul 2017 @ 4:42am

    Not Much Can Be Different

    Honestly, I don't know what you expect here. The answers given are reasonably vague, but they point in the same general direction as all law enforcement: We don't mind encryption as long as we know what is inside.

    It's perhaps more encouraging that he wants to spend more time talking with the private sector trying to come up with a better answer, whatever that answer may be.

    I suspect the President could nominate a ham sandwich, and it would pretty much say the same.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 16 Jul 2017 @ 11:15am

      "I don't mind if you have a lock on your front door, so long as you give me the key."

      The answers given are reasonably vague, but they point in the same general direction as all law enforcement: We don't mind encryption as long as we know what is inside.

      Which was and continues to be a terrible and dangerous idea, as it undercuts the entire purpose of encryption and makes it less secure.

      There have always been forms of communication that law enforcement has had no right or expectation to have, the sooner they can accept that encrypted communications fall into this category(unless they want to do the work decrypting it themselves) the sooner they can move on to working on methods that don't make everyone less safe, even if those methods do require actual work on their part.

      It's perhaps more encouraging that he wants to spend more time talking with the private sector trying to come up with a better answer, whatever that answer may be.

      As I noted above 'talk with' doesn't help if it doesn't include 'listen to'. If he was actually interested in talking with the tech sector and listening to what they say then yes, that might be encouraging, but from the sound of it('...to see if I could get the private sector more on-board to understand why this issue is so important to keep us all safe') it's just more of the 'give us what we're demanding you lazy nerds' as before.

      Breaking encryption and deliberately weakening it is always going to be a bad idea, so the fact that he wants to 'talk to' the private sector is only helpful if he's willing to accept that fact and move on to what can be done without making everyone less safe.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2017 @ 6:20am

    I would expect the prez to appoint experienced and knowledgeable people to the cabinet, but that's just me - ham sandwiches are an alternative choice fer sure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2017 @ 7:26am

    Compromising encryption algos. themselves is no longer the name of the game. They'll just try to compromise the endpoints instead.
    One encrypted copy of the message goes to the receiver, one unecrypted copy to the manufacturer.

    Only solution to that is not to use the phone's encryption libs which means you either roll your own (NSA's geeks said 'Hello') or trust a third party.

    NSA, Russia's GRU and China's MSS must be pretty happy right now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 17 Jul 2017 @ 7:41am

    Surprise surprise... Comey was wrong for the position in every way, but mostly in the "won't turn a blind eye when ordered" kinda way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2017 @ 1:59pm

    Goodbye, James Comey.

    Hello, James Comey.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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